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GENDER EQUALITYSTRATEGY:Accelerating Action to EndFemale Genital Mutilation inEthiopia

Suggested citation: United Nations Children’s Fund, Gender EqualityStrategy: Accelerating Action to End Female Genital Mutilation inEthiopia, UNICEF, Ethiopia, 2021Cover Picture: UNICEF/2020/Mulugeta AyenePage 06: UNICEF/2019/Martha TadessePage 12: UNICEF/2020/Mulugeta AyenePage 17: UNICEF/2019/Martha TadessePage 20: UNICEF/2019/Martha TadessePage 26: UNICEF/2019/Martha TadessePage 33: UNICEF/2017/Meklit MershaPage 37: UNICEF/2017/Meklit Mersha

GENDER EQUALITY STRATEGY:Accelerating Action to End FemaleGenital Mutilation in EthiopiaUNICEF EthiopiaGlobal Affairs Canada

List of au of Women, Children and YouthCommunity ConversationsCommunication for DevelopmentConvention on the Elimination of Discrimination against WomenChild marriageConvention on the Rights of the ChildEthiopia Demographic Health SurveyFederal Attorney GeneralFaith-based OrganisationFocus group discussionFemale genital mutilationGlobal Affairs CanadaGender EqualityGender Equality MarkerHuman-centred designHealth Extension WorkerInter-Agency Standing CommitteeMinistry of Women, Children and YouthMinistry of HealthNon-governmental organizationOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and DevelopmentRegional Attorney GeneralSocial Analysis and ActionSocial and Behavior ChangeSouthern Nations Nationalities and People (Ethiopia)Women Development GroupsWomen Development Army

List of definitionsFemale genital mutilation(FGM): Female genitalmutilation (FGM) is a practicethat involves altering or injuringthe female genitalia for nonmedical reasons, and it isinternationally recognized as ahuman rights violation. As perthe World Health OrganizationFGM classification, there are 4major types of FGM:Type 1: This is the partial ortotal removal of the clitoralglans (the external and visiblepart of the clitoris, which is asensitive part of the femalegenitals), and/or the prepuce/clitoral hood (the fold of skinsurrounding the clitoral glans).Type 2: This is the partial ortotal removal of the clitoralglans and the labia minora (theinner folds of the vulva), withor without removal of the labiamajora (the outer folds of skinof the vulva).Type 3: Also known asinfibulation, this is thenarrowing of the vaginalopening through the creationof a covering seal. The sealis formed by cutting andrepositioning the labia minora,or labia majora, sometimesthrough stitching, with orwithout removal of the clitoralprepuce/clitoral hood andglans (Type I FGM).Type 4: This includes allother harmful proceduresto the female genitalia fornon-medical purposes, e.g.pricking, piercing, incising,scraping and cauterizing thegenital area.1Gender equality: Refers to theequal rights, responsibilities andopportunities of women andmen and girls and boys. Equalitydoes not mean that women andmen will become the same butthat women’s and men’s rights,responsibilities and opportunitieswill not depend on whether theyare born male or female.2Gender equality outcomes:Measurable changes thatexplicitly aim to reduce genderinequality, or improve equalitybetween women and men, boysand girls.3Gender Inequality Index(GII): The GII is an inequalityindex. It measures genderinequalities in three importantaspects of human development:reproductive health, measuredby maternal mortality ratioand adolescent birth rates;empowerment, measured bythe proportion of parliamentaryseats occupied by females andproportion of adult females andmales aged 25 years and olderwith at least some secondaryeducation; and economic status,expressed as labour marketparticipation and measured bylabour force participation rateof female and male populationsaged 15 years and older.4Gender transformativeapproach: An approach thatseeks to transform unequalgender and power relationsassociated with harmfulpractices to promote the equalstatus of men and women insociety through women andgirls’ empowerment.5Human-Centred Design (HCD):Human-centred design (HCD)is a problem-solving processthat begins with understandingthe human factors and contextsurrounding a challenge. Itrequires building empathy andworking directly with the peopleyou are designing for, generatingideas, building prototypes andcreating an innovative, contextappropriate solutions.6Infibulation: This is Type 3FGM.Pharaonic FGM: This is Type 3FGM.Sunni FGM: This is Type 1FGM.1World Health Organization, Key Facts onFemale Genital Mutilation, WHO, 20202The Office of the Special Adviser to theSecretary-General on Gender Issuesand Advancement of Women, GenderMainstreaming: Strategy for PromotingGender Equality Document, OSAGI, 20013Global Affairs Canada, Gender Equality Toolkitfor Projects, GAC, 20194United Nations Development Programme,Human Development Reports: GenderInequality Index (GII), UNDP, 20205United Nations Children’s Fund, TechnicalNote on Gender-Transformative Approachesin the Global Programme to End ChildMarriage Phase II: A Summary forPractioners, UNICEF, 20206United Nations Children’s Fund, HumanCentred Design: Accelerating Results forEvery Child by Design, UNICEF, 2019

1INTRODUCTIONOne of the deliverables under the GlobalAffairs Canada (GAC) funded programme,Accelerating Action to End FemaleGenital Mutilation in Ethiopia,1 is thedevelopment of a Gender Equality (GE)Strategy that outlines UNICEF Ethiopia’sapproach for advancing gender equalityin the FGM programme, which will beimplemented by both Child Protectionand Health Sections. The structure of thestrategy follows GAC’s recommendationsas outlined in the GAC Gender EqualityToolkit, and encompasses an overviewof the gender-based analysis, genderequality outcomes as well as sectionson capacity building, monitoring andreporting, and resources and budget.The purpose of the GE Strategy isto provide overall guidance on theapproach to be used in the programmeinterventions, monitoring and reporting,and capacity-building to ensure theoutlined gender-equality outcomes areachieved. Through the GE Strategy,the programme aims to mobilizestrong involvement of gender-equalityexpertise as part of the managementand implementation team; collaboratewith women’s organizations andcommunity-based organizations forgreater localization and ownership, whileensuring the perspectives and opinionsof women and women’s organizationsare valued and integrated throughout theprogramme; create flexibility to respondto opportunities for supporting genderequality that present themselves duringGENDER EQUALITY STRATEGY:Accelerating Action to End Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopiaprogramme implementation; and promoteequitable participation of women withmen throughout implementation.The GE Strategy is in line with UNICEFEthiopia’s Country Programme (2020–2025), with UNICEF’s Global GenderAction Plan (GAP) II 2018–20212 andwith UNICEF Ethiopia Gender ActionPlan (2020–2025) that commits to moregender-transformative programming.It is informed by UNICEF Ethiopia’sGender Review (2019) which involvedconsultations through FGDs with 56mothers and fathers of children aged0–9 and aged 10–14, as well as with 30adolescent girls and boys aged 15–19in Amhara region, a UNICEF Ethiopiacommissioned Situation Analysis onWomen and Children3, as well as by awealth of research already available ongender equality in Ethiopia, especiallywith regards to gender and social normsdriving female genital mutilation (FGM).4The GE Strategy elaborates how genderequality outcomes will address genderinequalities through the programme, andhow strategies and interventions will betailored to achieve those outcomes inthe regions of Afar, Somali and SNNP. Thedocument highlights different strategies,informed by the gender-based analysisthat is based on research conducted2012–2020, that will address policies,FGM-related laws, and deep-rooted,long-standing social norms, attitudes andbeliefs that maintain gender inequality.7

UNICEF recognizes that other structuralfactors also determine the prevalence ofFGM, such as poverty, levels of educationor lack of resilience for girls, their familiesand communities. Some of these factors,such as poverty and levels of education,are being addressed through broadergovernment schemes and programmes.The GE Strategy was developed througha consultative process at the CountryOffice level involving specialists in theUNICEF Health and Child Protectionsections, UNICEF’s Gender Specialist,and field office colleagues. The strategyhas been reviewed by the UNICEFEthiopia Adolescent and Gender Group8(AGG) which includes focal persons fromprogramme sections and field offices, aswell as by UNICEF Eastern and SouthernAfrica Regional Office and Headquarters.Noting the GE Strategy is not a staticdocument, UNICEF Ethiopia plans toconsult with women and adolescent girls,as well as with men and boys, at differentstages of the programme to validate theGE Strategy.GENDER EQUALITY STRATEGY:Accelerating Action to End Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia

2Overview of gender-based analysisThe Ethiopia Demographic HealthSurvey6 shows a decrease in the nationalprevalence of FGM over the past 15years (i.e. from 80 per cent in 2000 to 65per cent in 2015). However, to eliminateFGM in Ethiopia by 2030, progress willneed to be seven times faster than in thepast 10 years, with the most accelerationneeded in Somali, Afar and Dire Dawa.Behavioural and social norms changeapproaches will be crucial.2.1. FGM in Afar, Somali and SNNPregionsThe UNICEF statistical brochure on FGM5finds that Ethiopia does not rank amongthe countries with the highest levels ofFGM in Eastern and Southern Africa, butthat the country is home to the largestnumber of girls and women who haveundergone FGM in the region. The datashow that 65 per cent of girls and womenaged 15 to 49 have undergone FGM, withthe highest prevalence found in Somali(99 per cent) and Afar (91 per cent)regions.TigrayAfarAmharaBenishangul-GumuzDire DawaHarariAddis AbabaGambelaOromia90 per cent or moreSomali70 to 89 per centSNNPR50 to 69 per cent30 to 49 per centLess than 30 per centOromia9 millionAmhara7 millionSNNPR4 millionSomali2 millionAddis Ababa1 ,000DireDawa150,000Harari80,000Gambela50,000Figure 1: Percentage of girls and women aged 15 to 49years who have undergone FGM (map) and number ofgirls and women of all ages who have undergone FGM(circles)Source: UNICEF (2020)GENDER EQUALITY STRATEGY:Accelerating Action to End Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia9

Infibulation (Type 3 FGM) is common inAfar and Somali regions (respectively69 per cent and 62 per cent of totalmutilations, while in other regions it isunder 6 per cent, noting SNNP is thethird-highest region for infibulation afterAfar and Somali). There is substantialregional variation in the age at which girlsare cut. The EDHS shows that about halfof cut women and girls underwent FGMat under 5 years, whereas one in 10 cutwomen was cut after age 15. In Afarregion, where the prevalence of FGMis 91 per cent, girls are cut as babies,41721662normally within the first week of birth; 84per cent were cut before age 5 but veryfew past age 15. The opposite is true forSomali and SNNP regions where only21–22 per cent of girls are cut before age5, but many more are cut older. In SNNPregion 31 per cent were cut from 15years old onwards, which represents thehighest burden in absolute numbers ofgirls cut at a later age across the countryand means that a great number of girlsremain at risk of undergoing FGM duringtheir Type of FGM:5662Sewn closedCut, flesh removedCut, no flesh AmharaDire DawaBenishangulGumuzAddisAbabaDon’t know/not determinedOromiaFigure 2: Percentage distribution of women aged 20to 24 years who have undergone FGM by type of FGMperformed by regionSource: United Nations Children’s Fund, A Profile ofFemale Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia, UNICEF, NewYork, 2020.10GENDER EQUALITY STRATEGY:Accelerating Action to End Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia

2.2. Legal and policy frameworkNotwithstanding the deeply rooted normsthat contribute to gender inequality in thecountry, Ethiopia has made considerableadvancement in putting progressivelaws and policies in place that arealigned with international human rightsstandards including the United NationsChild Rights Convention (UN CRC) andthe Convention on the Elimination of allForms Discrimination Against Women(CEDAW) and other regional frameworks,such as the Maputo Protocol (2005). TheFederal Democratic Republic of EthiopiaConstitution (1995), guarantees the rightsof women, regardless of their age, toequality under Articles 25 and 35. Theequal rights of women in the family andprotection from harmful practices, notablyFGM and child marriage, and other formsof gender-based violence are reiteratedin the country’s family laws and thecriminal law. Moreover, the Ministry ofWomen, Children and Youth (hereafter,MoWCY) has finalized its 10 Year StrategicPlan relating to the advancement ofwomen, children and youth in thecountry, underlining the need for equalopportunities for girls and boys.Figure 3: Timeline of key initiatives and actions inEthiopiaSource: UNFPA and UNICEF (2018)8GENDER EQUALITY STRATEGY:Accelerating Action to End Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia11

Various laws, policies and initiativeshave been enacted to address harmfulpractices, such as the criminalization ofFGM in the Criminal Code (2005), theestablishment of a National Alliance toEnd Child Marriage and FGM within theMoWCY (2012), the National Strategyand Action Plan on Harmful TraditionalPractices Against Women and Childrenin Ethiopia (2013), the Government’scommitment to eliminate FGM by2025 and increased budget allocationof concerned sectors by 10 per centto eliminate FGM made at the 2014London Girls’ Summit. The Ministryof Health (MoH) has also taken actionto eliminate FGM, issuing a circular inJanuary 2017 that bans the practicein health facilities (and consequentlyforbids the medicalization of the practice)and integrates prevention effortsinto the activities of health extension12workers (HEWs).9 Additionally, in 2016MoH developed national managementprotocols and training materials forthe clinical management of FGMcomplications that have been rolled out inSomali and Afar regions.The above-mentioned commitments ofthe Government of Ethiopia create anenvironment for the abandonment ofFGM and pave the way for a society thatvalues and promotes gender equality.Most recently, in August 2019, H.E. thePresident of the Federal Republic ofEthiopia together with H.E. the Ministerand senior officials from MoWCYlaunched the National Costed Roadmapto End Child Marriage and FGM/C2020–2024 (hereafter, the NationalRoadmap). UNICEF, together with UNFPAand the National Alliance membershave provided financial and technicalsupport over the past three years toGENDER EQUALITY STRATEGY:Accelerating Action to End Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia

support the development and launchof this strategic document, detailingcosted plans against five evidence-basedoutcomes10 to prevent and address FGMfor each region and for the federal level.It includes a results framework alignedto a theory of change to help ensureaccountability of the different actors inimplementing the National Roadmap andaligning their efforts against evidencebased outcomes. The robustness of theNational Roadmap lies in its evidencebased theory of change which informsthe five key strategies, as well as inthe multi-sectoral approach towardsimplementation. The results frameworkoutlines the responsible institutions (bothfor tracking and for implementation)for each indicator, such as for examplethe Ministry of Health, the Ministryof Education, the Ministry of Women,Children and Youth, the Ministry of Labourand Social Affairs, UN agencies, media,civil society and faith-based organisations.While the GAC programme onAccelerating Action to End FGMin Ethiopia was informed by andincorporates the National Roadmap’sstrategies described above, the resultsachieved under this programme willalso contribute to the targets set in itsresults framework (following each of thefive outcomes) and thereby contributeto the governments’ national efforts toeliminate the practice. This is particularlyimportant as the National Roadmaprecognizes the need to include a widerange of actors including government,development partners, donors, the privatesector, civil society organizations andcommunity structures to achieve results.This programme therefore contributes tothe results of the National Roadmap andwill collaborate with the National Alliancemembers by adding to the evidencebase, for example through the formativeGENDER EQUALITY STRATEGY:Accelerating Action to End Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopiaresearch on successful strategies toend FGM, to strengthen advocacy toend the practice and to support NationalAlliance members in evidence-basedprogramming.All regions except Afar and Somali haveadopted a Family Code that meets theConstitutional standards including settingthe minimum age of marriage at 18 yearsfor girls and boys. Afar and Somali are, todate, applying the Ethiopian Civil Codeof 1960 which sets the minimum age ofmarriage for girls at 15, while for boys it is18. In these regions and at federal level,Ministry of Women, Children and Youth,UN agencies (including UNICEF and UNWomen), and NGOs are advocating forlegal change. According to Article 35 ofthe Constitution, the State shall enforcethe right of women to eliminate theinfluences of harmful customs; therefore,laws, customs and practices that oppressor cause bodily or mental harm to womenare prohibited, while Article 36 alsorequires that all actions shall be in thebest interest of the child.The Criminal Code does not provide aclear definition of FGM and does notcriminalize the failure to report FGM, eventhough it establishes criminal offence forfailure to report certain crimes (e.g. Art.443). There is a significant gap betweenthe law prohibiting FGM (Criminal Code)and its enforcement. The UNJP-FGM2016 and 2018 Annual Reports show thatin Ethiopia there were 13 arrests, 9 casesbrought to court and 4 cases convictedin 2018 for practicing FGM, comparedto one arrest, one case brought to courtand one case convicted in 2016. The lowenforcement of the Criminal Code (withover 90 per cent FGM prevalence in Afarand Somali less than 30 cases enteredin the formal justice system in Ethiopiain 2018) creates a climate of impunity13

which, along with perceived societalsanctions for opposing the practice,doesn’t encourage girls to come forwardthrough formal mechanisms.One of the main causes for the limitedlaw enforcement, is the communities’preference to solve cases of FGMthrough informal mechanisms, such asfamily mediation or mediation done bycommunity leaders.11 Often cases arereported to the formal justice system,only when the informal mediationprocesses to prevent FGM have failed. Inaddition to that, staff of law enforcementbodies are part of the communities thathold strong beliefs around FGM andmay themselves follow these social andgender norms. This is assumed to be oneof the reasons why there has not beena rigorous law enforcement on FGM ascompared to other crimes which are notconsidered to be a norm issue. It willtherefore be crucial to work on the valuesand attitudes of the justice workforcethrough the Social Analysis and Actionapproach (further elaborated in sectionthree).As outlined in the National Roadmap,community members will need to beencouraged to report cases of FGM(either to formal or less formal structures)by strengthening community structuresand reporting chains, and by developingstrong linkages between the formaland the traditional justice processes.Additionally, awareness of the need toharmonize customary laws that are inconflict with the Constitution shouldbe raised, as the supreme laws of thecountry prevail over other laws (Art.9.1) and establish that internationalagreements ratified by Ethiopia are anintegral part of the law (Art. 9.4).1214While law enforcement is important,UNICEF also considers alternativemeasures (e.g. community-basedprotection mechanisms, communitymediation, prevention) and encouragesto use criminal law only when usefuland necessary. Heavy-handed lawenforcement can have negative andunintended consequences, such as FGMpractices going underground resulting incases that remain hidden, and undermineevidence-based interventions to changesocial and gender norms or discourageaccess to (legal) services.13The CRC Committee, in its combinedfourth and fifth periodic report of June2015, has acknowledged the commitmentof the Government of Ethiopia toeliminate harmful practices throughlegislative reforms and awareness-raisingcampaigns.14 However, the Committeeexpressed concern that the relevant legalprovisions prohibiting and criminalizingFGM are not adequately enforced. TheCommittee therefore recommendedthe Government of Ethiopia to intensifyprogrammes targeting FGM practices,particularly in the regions of highprevalence, and strengthen its efforts toeliminate social pressure and behavioursthat perpetuate this practice, throughtargeted sensitization campaigns at thelocal level. It also recommends to strictlyenforce the existing legislation prohibitingFGM and ensure that the perpetratorswill be prosecuted and convicted.In 2019, the Committee on theElimination of Discrimination AgainstWomen (CEDAW) recommendedthat Ethiopia adopt a comprehensiveand inclusive strategy to eliminatediscriminatory gender stereotypesconcerning the roles and responsibilitiesof women and men in the family andGENDER EQUALITY STRATEGY:Accelerating Action to End Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia

in society, and regularly monitor andassess the measures taken to eliminatediscriminatory gender stereotypesand harmful practices. Additionally,the CEDAW Committee called onEthiopia to ensure implementation ofthe revised penalties for FGM underthe 2005 Criminal Code, to adopt thefamily law in the Afar and Somali regionalstates in conformity with the FederalFamily Code, as well as to effectivelyimplement the 2013 National Strategyand Action Plan on Harmful TraditionalPractices against Women and Childrenin Ethiopia.15 In its efforts to take onboard the recommendations, MoWCY incollaboration with its partners, includingUNICEF, is undertaking a review of theNational Policy on Women that wasintroduced in 1993, with a view toadopting a gender-equality policy thatpromotes and protects the human rightsof women and girls.While limited research has beenconducted on this issue, informal justicesystems16 may be more accessible towomen, but the usually limited proceduralrules may disadvantage women byperpetuating gender discriminationand the religious, cultural, social andgender norms that violate women’srights, lack of privacy and confidentiality,especially in contexts of strong patriarchaldominance.17In Afar, SNNP and Somali regions theinformal justice system works in parallelwith religious institutions, in a systemof legal pluralism allowing customaryand religious laws to be applied onpersonal and family matters based onthe consent of parties. The FederalConstitution along with the regionalstate laws provide regulations for theofficial recognition of Sharia courts andGENDER EQUALITY STRATEGY:Accelerating Action to End Female Genital Mutilation in EthiopiaIslamic law as an official source of law.Despite the aforementioned Article 35 ofthe Constitution, it is found that most ofthe customary and religious laws acrossregions in Ethiopia are violating women’srights in marriage, inheritance andwomen’s participation.182.3. Gender equality, women’s andchildren’s empowerment in EthiopiaIn 2019, Ethiopia ranked 123 out of189 countries on the Gender InequalityIndex which reflects gender-baseddisadvantages in reproductive health,empowerment and economic status. Keystatistics from the 2016 EDHS on girls’and women’s status in Ethiopia includethe following: 14 per cent of women20–24 years were married or in unionbefore age 15 and 40 per cent before age18; 21 per cent of women 20–24 yearshave given birth by age 18; 63 per cent ofwomen 15–49 years think that a husband/partner is justified in hitting/beatinghis wife under certain circumstances;and only 26 per cent of women 15–49years make use of at least one type ofinformation media at least once a week(newspaper, magazine, television orradio).In 2019, UNICEF and the Ministry ofWomen, Children and Youth conducteda study on Gender Equality, Women’sEmpowerment and Child Wellbeingin Ethiopia. The study showed thatremarkable progress has been madetowards gender equality in pre-primary,primary and secondary school attendancebetween 2000 and 2016. Nationally, thegender gap in primary school attendancehas been eliminated. The gender gapin secondary school attendance rateshas narrowed to a 5-percentage-pointdifference (higher for boys).1915

520115320164037202000200510201120160Adolescent girls(15-19 years)Adolescent boys(15-19 years)Adult Women(20-49 years)Adult men(20-59 years)Figure 4: Trends in illiteracy,adolescent and adults (per cent).Source: calculations EDHS dataThe illiteracy rate in the country hasremained high. 58 per cent of womenand 31 per cent of men age 15–49 areilliterate. Among adolescent boys andgirls (15–17 years), illiteracy rate is 37per cent and 52 per cent respectively.Progress has been uneven across theregions, for example, the gender gapin adolescent literacy remains wide inSomali where 80 per cent of adolescentgirls are illiterate compared to 37 percent of adolescent boys. Afar and Somaliare among the regions where genderinequality in secondary education hasincreased. It is important to note thecontribution that the transition to andcompletion of secondary school maketo empowerment of adolescent girlsand the role of education generally inshaping positive beliefs about women,empowerment and eliminating FGM forfuture generations, as educated womenare less likely to support the continuationof the practice.20The level of women’s empowermentis very low in Ethiopia. In 2016, 6 outof 100 Ethiopian women in unionwere ‘empowered’21, an improvementfrom 2 per cent in 2005. The overall16empowerment of women ‘not in union’has shown progress from 6 per cent in2005 to 11 per cent in 2016. The ruralurban divide and the disparity by wealthquintiles is wide.Children whose mothers are‘empowered’ are less likely to bedeprived in terms of nutrition, health,health-related knowledge, educationand are more likely to be protected fromviolence and abuse. At the same time, nostatistically significant associations werefound between women’s empowermentand child health, as well as FGM,indicating that these topics need to beinvestigated more in depth in the futureto inform policy action and interventions.2.4. Religion, cultural practices, normsand beliefs on FGMFGM in Ethiopia is mostly performedby traditional practitioners (86 per cent).SNNP is the only region where there issome involvement of health personnel;1 in 10 women who underwent FGM inSNNP region was cut by a doctor, nurse,midwife, or other health professional.22GENDER EQUALITY STRATEGY:Accelerating Action to End Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia

Infibulation is practiced the mostamongst Muslim communities, andwhile there are no significant differencesby wealth, women from rural areas,with less education and who identifyas Muslim are more likely to haveundergone FGM.23 The Afar and Somaliethnic groups have the lowest percentageof girls, women, boys and men aged15 to 49 years who have heard of FGMand think the practice should stop. Inaddition, the UNICEF Ethiopia FGM datashow that one in four women and onein six men believe FGM is a religiousrequirement. This belief is most likely tobe found among older women, and in theAfar and Somali regions where a majorityof the population is Muslim; it is a morecommonly held belief among Muslimsthan Christians.Religious institutions and leaders havethe potential to be key gatekeepersfor the protection of children and girlsagainst harmful practices such FGM;they are influencers who have significantweight amongst their faith communitiesand have the ability to reach the mostremote populations through their farreaching networks and through their entryGENDER EQUALITY STRATEGY:Accelerating Action to End Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopiapoints during prayer times and religiousevents.24 Religious leaders in Afar andSomali regions have been encouragedto promote Fatwa (a legal opinion on apoint of Islamic law given by an Islamicjurist) delinking the practice of FGM fromreligious teachings. An increasing numberof religious leaders are committed topublicly denouncing FGM and raisingawareness amongst their followers,using various platforms, including Fridayprayer. An inter-religious teaching manualfor religious leaders was developedand disseminated. At the same time,one of the bottlenecks to eliminateFGM, is some religious leaders’ shift insupport, especially in Somali region, frominfibulation to Sunni type of FGM.The 2016 EDHS data show the first- (68per cent) and second-highest (51 percent) percentage of Ethiopian womenwho believe FGM should continue residein Afar and Somali respectively. At thesame time, it is interesting to note howopinions on FGM in Ethiopia are evolvingover time: while only 3 in 10 womenopposed FGM 15 years ago, now 8 in 10women (85 per cent) think the practiceshould stop.25 Opposition to the practice17

is common across population groups,though men and women in urban areas,in richer households and with moreeducation are most likely to opposeFGM. Younger girls and women (aged15–19 years) are systematically moreinclined to think the practice should stop,compa

Gender equality outcomes: Measurable changes that explicitly aim to reduce gender inequality, or improve equality between women and men, boys and girls.3 Gender Inequality Index (GII): The GII is an inequality index. It measures gender inequalities in three important as